Good news. In California, the right of free speech is still alive and well. When neighbors posted protest signs on their own front lawns about a company’s plan to sell timeshares, the company sued the neighbors for defamation, slander of title and interference with economic advantage.
A classic case of legal bullying.
The neighbors promptly brought an anti-SLAPP motion (a tool available when a defendant believes they have been unfairly targeted with a lawsuit as a punishment for exercising their right to free speech or to petition the government for redress). The neighbors won at the trial and appellate level. The lawsuit was dismissed and the protesting neighbors received an award of their legal costs. This is exactly the kind of legal abuse the anti-SLAPP laws were designed to curb.
The unpublished decision in Santa Barbara Beach Club, LLC v. Freeman has been posted by Leagle.com here.